I remember the exact moment that I first got to experience the genuine devotion that Philly fans have for their teams. It was Wednesday, October 21st, 2009, when the Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10–4 to go back to the World Series. I was there at the game, sitting down the third base line about 20 or so rows up from the field. This was the closest I had ever sat to the field—typically I'd be in the nosebleed seats. Going to a playoff game was usually out of the question, as tickets were expensive. Lucky for me, the Phillies team doctor was friendly with my mom, and, knowing how big my family was on Philadelphia sports, he’d offered her two tickets to the game.
The game was wild. Everywhere I looked all I saw was the red of Phillies hats, jerseys, and those silly rally towels. The fans were glued to every single pitch. For over three hours, there was never a moment of silence. There was always a cheer going on throughout the crowd, reminding the Dodgers that they were in Philly. When that final out came, there was complete pandemonium. Everyone was on their feet, yelling, screaming, and high–fiving. People were hugging complete strangers. As my mother and I left the stadium I distinctly remember high–fiving everyone we passed as we walked towards our car. Every person either offered out a hand, or a yell. The entire city seemed to have joined together to celebrate this moment.
This win was especially exciting because it is somewhat uncommon. It’s tough to be a fan of teams that don’t win often. Being a Philly sports fan requires a thick skin. Nothing ever comes easily for Philadelphia teams. Even when we think we’ve finally figured it out, we typically find a way to make it come down to the wire. The Phillies were last in the World Series in 2009, haven’t been to the playoffs since 2011, and last year had the 3rd worst record in baseball. The 76ers are getting better, but even so, their last championship win was in 1983. The Flyers have not won a championship since 1975, and have been in and out of the playoffs for the last few years.
And then, we have the Eagles. The Eagles, as I’ve been reminded countless times by most opposing sports fans, have never won a Super Bowl. This year, though, they have the chance to change that. This Sunday they’ll be playing against the team the entire country loves to hate, the New England Patriots. They are the underdogs and far more than just the Philly fans are rooting for them this time.
Being a Philly fan takes a lot of patience. We don’t get the same liberties that, say, Boston fans get. Our teams aren’t in the playoffs that often, and we certainly don’t have many championships. Unlike other team’s fans, we aren’t happy to just be there. We want to be winning; in fact, we expect to win even if we shouldn't. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins last Sunday voiced what all of Philadelphia was thinking when he said, “We ain’t just going for a field trip.” Some fans would be content to just be in the Super Bowl, but in Philly we won’t be content until we have won.
When the Eagles won the NFC Championships and earned their Super Bowl spot last Sunday, I felt that same feeling I’d felt back on that Wednesday night in 2009. As soon as that game clock hit 0, all the Philly fans knew where they were going: Broad Street. I called my friend; there was no question was to whether or not we were going. I forgot to ask him where to meet, and when I got down to Broad Street, it was complete mayhem. It is estimated that there were between 5,000 and 10,000 people down there. Eventually, I was able to find my friend, but only after having embraced and cheered with countless people—strangers apart from the fact that they were also Eagles fans. Everyone was hugging and cheering. Finally, the Eagles were back in the Super Bowl.
Moments like these make me proud to be a Philly sports fan. Sure, we’re a pretty obnoxious fan base at times. But we’re obnoxious together. We always have faith in our teams, and always expect the best. All that we ask is that each player plays their best. If they do that, the fans have no issue. If you half–ass something, we won't be afraid to tell you. But Philly fans are loyal, and stick with their teams through thick and thin. This is what it means to be a Philly fan. When I wear my Eagles or Phillies hat around campus, I’m proud to let people know that I’m from Philly and am a diehard Philly sports fan. I’ve seen the good, bad, and the ugly, but I’d never trade it for anything.